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#12 - JRL 7063
Vremya Novostei
No. 15
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
Igor ZADORIN, Association of Regional Sociologists (Group 7/89)

The results of regular opinion polls conducted in Russia by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) in 2001-2002 have been used in this review.

Attitude to President Putin - Supporting, Non-Committed, and Disloyal Voters

Answers to monitoring questions regularly asked by FOM have been used here as indicators of the voters' attitude and criteria for determining groups of the president's supporters and opponents.

The first group of "unconditional (convinced) supporters" includes respondents in opinion polls who trust President Vladimir Putin and would be prepared to vote for him in presidential elections, if they were held "next Sunday" and who positively assess ("excellent" or "good") his activity at the post of President of Russia. There are 27.3% of such people among all Russian voters.

The largest group (45.1%) includes "conditional supporters." They either trust Putin, or give electoral preference to him, or regard the fulfilment of his presidential duties as "excellent" or "good."

The third group, the "disloyal," includes respondents who either distrust Putin, or would not vote for him in any circumstances, or assess his activity as "bad" or "very bad." There are 9.7 % of such people among all Russian voters.

All the others - 17.9% of those polled - are in the group of non-committed (indifferent) respondents.

On the whole, Putin's "convinced supporters" together with "sympathizers," who one way of another have a positive attitude to him, are in a majority - two-thirds of the country's population. The people disloyal to the president, to a varying degree, have of late numbered no more than 13%.

Grouping the population in regard to its attitude to the president during the reviewed period was fairly stable. Late in 2002, however, the share of the non-committed reduced by about 10%, while the number of "convinced supporters" increased by those 10%.

Social-Demographic Characteristics of Groups of Voters

Women notably prevail among the unconditional supporters of the president, and about two-thirds of disloyal respondents are men. (See table 1.)

Ever more young people are becoming unconditional supporters, while about the same number of older age groups join the disloyal. Though on the whole age plays no significant role here.

According to the education level, Putin's supporters practically do not differ from the rest of the population. While an increased proportion of persons with higher and incomplete higher education are in the disloyal group (17.7%) Among the disloyal voters pensioners prevail, while the number of the unemployed is smaller there than among the population as a whole. Working respondents are evenly distributed among the groups.

Office employees and technical workers somewhat prevail among unconditional supporters and more chiefs of industrial units and experts are among the disloyal. (See table 2.) Judging by declared income, Putin's supporters differ very little from the population as a whole.

The proportion of Muscovites among the disloyal is greater than on the average in the country. Besides, among the disloyal residents of regional centers and capitals of the republics with a population below 1 million are met more frequently than on the average in the country, while there are fewer countryside residents. (See Table 3.)

It appears that the extent of loyalty depends on the level of the respondents' sociability. Though among those who are disloyal to Putin the number of persons considering themselves to be unlucky exceeds by 50% their number among the country's population as a whole.

Social optimism among the president's supporters is somewhat greater than it is on the average in the country, and among the disloyal pessimists make up over three-quarters, while their share among all on average is below 60%.

So, the analysis reveals a high level of representativeness in the group of the president's supporters in relation to Russia's population as a whole practically in all the main social-demographic parameters. The greatest difference is observed only in the sub-group of convinced supporters of Vladimir Putin. Among them the proportion of women and persons under 35 years of age, technical employees (and, to a smaller degree, workers), and also people residing in the North-Western Federal District (his fellow countrymen) is somewhat bigger.

Among those loyal to Putin, citizens adapted to present-day life and looking into future with optimism are met far more often.

The Level of Confidence in State,

Social Institutions and Power Bodies

The question of confidence in the state has divided people in Russia into two equal parts - it turned out that 46% of Russian citizens trust the state and the same number do not trust it (9% said they had difficulty in giving an answer - March 2002). At the same time, the electorate of President Putin displayed a comparatively higher level of confidence (53% against 39%). On the other hand, for instance, the electorate of Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov tends to trust the state to a somewhat smaller degree (42% against 48%).

Among the state institutions police and judicial and legal establishments are least trusted by Putin's electorate. The number of those who trust them is considerably less than that of those who do not. The attitude to the army is, on the whole, neutral. The respondents expressed the greatest confidence in security bodies (the number of those trusting them is double that of those who do not). But confidence in them is changing depending on current developments and factors of political life (its growth in November followed the operation to release hostages in the Theatre Center in Moscow).

Among non-state institutions the Russian Orthodox Church enjoys the greatest trust of potential voters for Putin (just like among the population as a whole and among Zuganov's supporters). The number of those trusting the media among Putin's electorate is greater than among those who do not trust them (the potential voters for Zyuganov are divided by half on this issue).

As regards institutions of social infrastructure, it is housing and communal services that are the least trusted by Putin's electorate (7% trust and 36% distrust them). The attitude to public health establishments may be regarded as neutral, while it is indifferent in regard to trade and public catering facilities. On the whole, a more positive attitude is expressed to public education and cultural establishments.

A comparative analysis of trust in regard to federal power bodies shows that the presidential administration enjoys the greatest trust of Putin's electorate. The extent of trust in this case significantly exceeds distrust (45% against 7%). On the whole, a neutral attitude is expressed to the federal government.

Meanwhile, confidence in the legislative power bodies is pretty low - merely 5% of these voters trust and almost 30% distrust them. A far greater number of respondents (29%) distrust the lower house - the State Duma, as compared with the number of those who distrust the upper house - the Federation Council (9%).

A point to note here is that those polled in all the studied groups more often are of the opinion that the State Duma today supports the president in all his undertakings. An opinion that it is independent in decision making is expressed notably more seldom - this view is shared by about a quarter of Russians (the difference of opinion among the groups is insignificant). No difference was observed between the electorates of Putin and Zyuganov in the view that elections are necessary - both believe (78% against 79%) that elections are needed.

Party Affiliations

Though voters from each of the five major parties are among the "unconditional" supporters of the president, their greatest share is in the electorate of the United Russia party (46%).

Meanwhile the "conditional" supporters of Putin in their party affiliation on the whole repeat the population make-up. Half of the disloyal are in the Communist Party electorate (49%), and the share of protesting electorate is increased in this group (those who say they would vote "against all"). The communist voters (32%) prevail also among the non-committed. Among them a significant number of citizens (20%) are not going to take part in elections. (See table A.)

It would be interesting to view these figures through the proportions of the party electorates "controlled" by presidential supporters and opponents.(See table 4.)

Judging by the table, the president "controls" through his "unconditional" supporters up to one-third of the electorates of the Union of Right Forces (SPS), Yabloko, and the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR), not to mention United Russia.

As for the Communist Party (KPRF), the attitudes to it on the part of the electorates of Putin and Zyuganov are different. A positive attitude to the KPRF is expressed by 88% of those voting for its leader (5% are indifferent and the attitude of 3% is even bad). The replies given by Putin's supporters are distributed in a different way - almost half of them expressed indifference to the Communist Party, while a positive and negative attitude is represented in almost equal shares (22% and 25% respectfully).

Among Putin's "conditional" supporters the share of those who said they wished to cast their votes for him is 58% ("unconditional" supporters of Putin vote for him all without exception). Every tenth pollee of this group prefers Zyuganov. The prevalent electoral choice among the voters disloyal to the president is the communist leader (42%).

Over a half (56% of the group of "unconditional" supporters of President Putin have voiced a positive attitude to the United Russia party (the attitude of 2% was negative and 31% said they were indifferent.) The structure of the answers given by his "conditional" supporters is similar to the average attitude in Russia. Among the "disloyal" voters the negative attitude to United Russia is more frequent that a positive one (34% against 7%), while the indifferent attitude is predominant (40%).

Some Conclusions

Vladimir Putin's supporters in composition correspond to the population of Russia practically in all social-demographic parameters. But, having a common attitude to their president, they are different on the major aspects of life in this country and their attitudes to some or other facts, events and persons are not the same. Among his firm supporters are those who approve and disapprove of the present Constitution of Russia, those who welcome Russia's independence and those who regret the break-up of the Soviet Union, people who come out for private ownership of land and those who are opposed to the idea, advocates of free medical care, education and other "gains of socialism" and people who are for a market approach to these spheres of life, ethnically tolerant and not very tolerant, those who favor solution of the Chechen problem by the use of force and those demanding talks with the separatists, people who are in favor of Russia's joining NATO and who are opposed to such a foreign policy. In other words Putin's supporters are by far not a like-minded mass of people.

The analysis of public support for Putin in 2001 and 2002 shows that the attitude of Russians to the president has been pretty stable. At present there are no clear signals of changes in the factors promoting or preventing support for him. In other words, the "community" of Putin's supporters evidently will not change during the upcoming federal elections.

The sympathies of "unconditional" supporters for the president are largely in the United Russia party. At the same time, in the electorates of other main political parties their share is quite impressive (about one-third of a party's electorate), which allows us to state that the electoral situation in the country is to some extent controlled by Putin's supporters.

Table 1


TOTAL unconditional supporters conditional supporters disloyal supporters non-committed supporters
41.8  43.5  64.7  54.1
58.2 56.5 35.3 45.9


Table 2

Post, Rank

TOTAL unconditional supporters conditional supporters disloyal supporters non-committed supporters

Manager, deputy manager
of an enterprise or office

3.1  3.1  3.0  3.4 
manager of a department of an enterprise, expert
17.0 15.3 25.4 20.4
office employee, technical employee
34.4 29.8 27.3 20.8
42.9 51.1 42.5 53.5
2.2 0.8 1.9 1.9

Table 3


TOTAL unconditional supporters conditional supporters disloyal supporters non-committed supporters


4.6 5.2 8.5 7.3
St. Petersburg 
3.1  3.5  1.6  2.1 

regional center, republican capital (pop. over 1 mln)

8.4 9.1 7.6 11.8
regional center republican capital (pop. under 1 mln)
18.4 16.0 22.7 13.6
district center small town, settlement
39.0 37.5 38.3 38.2
26.5 28.7 21.2 27.0

Table 4

Proportion of Putin's Supporters and Voters Disloyal to Him in Other State Duma Parties

TOTAL unconditional supporters conditional supporters disloyal supporters non-committed supporters
United Russia
48.9  44.2  1.2  5.7 
Communist Party 
11.3  41.8  21.2  25.7
28.4 43.5 8.8 19.3

Union of Right Forces

28.5 58.1 5.1 8.3


23.6 46.3 11.3 18.8

voters for other party

35.4 50.0 4.3 10.2
against all
16.4 42.3 16.1  25.2

those who would take no part in voting

17.4 38.3 11.5 32.8
difficult to answer
24.4 52.6 5.9 17.1

Table A

Supporters of Duma Parties Among Firm Supporters of Vladimir Putin

  Party %


United Russia 46
2. Communist Party (KPRF) 9

Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR)

4. Union of Right Forces (SPS) 4
5. Yabloko 3
6. For other party 6
7. Against all 4
8. Would not take part in elections 7
9. Difficult to answer 14
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